Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Dan Gilroy's directional debut, Nightcrawler, features Jake Gyllenhaal playing a greasy, desperate, and dark Lou Bloom. Bloom, desperate for work, pries his way into the Los Angeles  crime journalism field by getting up close and personal with fresh victims of either violence or accidents. The movie unfolds against the blank and black backdrop of urban Los Angeles, where our main character and his employee Rick(Riz Ahmed) have found a profitable partner in Nina Romina(Rene Russo). Bloom gives Romina the bloodiest footage he can shoot, and is rewarded by Romina monetarily and also with female attention that Bloom desperately seeks. The film's conflict centers around Bloom's small business and his relationship with his employee Rick and (more centrally) Nina.

Voyeurism isn't a new film trope. Since the time of Hitchock's landmark Rear Window, directors have been fascinated by the prospect of human obsession with watching others in intimate situations. Indeed, this film pokes at our eerie instincts to slow down while we pass a horrific car accident. As many have pointed out, the film is a critique of sensationalistic journalism. "If it bleeds it leads," should basically be posted across Rene Russo's forehead in this film. Again, we aren't breaking new ground with this material. However, the film's most poignant and interesting theme is its overarching critique of what is commonly referred to as the "American Dream." This critique in and of itself is also not new. Just last year we saw Leonardo DiCaprio brilliantly and hilariously snort the American Dream up his nose and pukeall over those around him. However, this film's critique isn't of the decadent 80's, but is an up to date and accurate critique of the Post-Recession American Landscape. Bloom isn't fighting to be a millionaire, he's killing to make $50K, something a lot of 20-somethings can relate to(I'm poor).

The film works for me on many levels. Gyllenhaal is excellent in this film. He is subtle and uneasy and just the type of slime we all try to avoid on the street. He speaks to his employee Rick as if he has watched and memorized countless corporate Human Resources manuals. Lou Bloom really does sound like a corporate manager who we have all rolled our eyes at even if he doesn't look the part. The dichotomy of Bloom looking like a creep and talking like the manager of PNC has its hilarious moments. If this is Gilroy's directional debut, then I'm all in. He builds the tension throughout the film with exacting ease. Each time Bloom hears a radio call from emergency services, the audience perks up to see what grisly scene we are encountering next. Of course, we can't look away.